Moodie Conducts Research in South Africa – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Moodie Conducts Research in South Africa

Professor of Sociology Dunbar Moodie is hard at work exploring the culture and history of mining in South Africa.  In fact, Moodie is spending his sabbatical in Johannesburg, where he is currently serving as the Claude Leon Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand.

The university’s Society, Work and Development Institute (SWOP) recently held a two-day mining symposium in his honor, during which Moodie delivered the event’s keynote address. Two days later, Moodie also addressed a crowd of unionists, business people, professionals and academics at a SWOP breakfast with a talk on “Revisiting Social Movement Unionism: the Case of the National Union of Mineworkers.”

The breakfast was a prominent event, during which the respondent was Gwede Mantashe, General Secretary of South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress, who previously served as General Secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers. 

“Next to Jacob Zuma, the president of the country, he is probably the most important political figure in South Africa,” explains Moodie. “It was incredibly flattering that he attended.”

Moodie’s time in South Africa is far from over; throughout the next few months he will continue work on two significant projects. The first is a history of the rise of the National Union of Mineworkers in South Africa  – a project Moodie has lent his efforts to since 1995 – which he hopes to complete the work this summer. He is also crafting a new introduction for his first book, “The Rise of Afrikanerdom,” which was published in 1975 and is an essential text when studying Afrikaner nationalism. Moodie was convinced to revisit the book, which is since out of print, after receiving a letter from Judge Louis Harms, vice president of the South African Appeal Court. 

“He read the book and wrote saying I should reprint it, but one cannot just reprint a book like that without bringing it up to date,” says Moodie, who has been traveling the country conducting interviews with members of the Afrikaner elite about the transition to a new democratic South Africa. “I’ve already published one article on the subject and have a couple more in the works.  It’s fascinating work.”

“I am trying to get some research done and I have a number of interviews lined up – on both topics,” says Moodie. “So life is full.”

Moodie also led a sociology department seminar on miners at the University of Pretoria, and will be conducting another seminar at the University of the North West in Potchefstroom in the coming weeks.

A native of Cape Town, South Africa, Moodie came to the Colleges in 1976. He earned the bachelor’s degree from Rhodes University, the M.A. from Oxford University, and the Ph.D. from Harvard University. He has previously received awards from numerous foundations, including Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

In the photo above General Secretary of the African National Congress Gwede Mantashe, University of Witwatersrand Professor Eddie Webster, and HWS Professor of Sociology T. Dunbar Moodie gather for a photo following Moodie’s talk, “Revisiting Social Movement Unionism: the Case of the National Union of Mineworkers,” in Johannesburg, South Africa.